RAVE'S FAVES (on the air since January 1)
Vampire Weekend (various), MGMT (various), Hot Chip, B-52's, Foxboro Hot Tubs, Switches, Ting Tings, The Cribs ("Realist"), Beirut, Gnarls Barkley, Atreyu, Devo, Rumble Strips, Duffy, Flogging Molly.
Vampire Weekend and MGMT, both from Brooklyn, are the buzz bands of the year, and both back up the hype with consistently strong albums.Hot Chip may not show as much heart and soul on the new release, but "Ready for the Floor" is a perfect single and this album does have a nice edge to it. How cool is it that the B-52's have a new CD coming? And I also think that Green Day's Foxboro Hot Tubs 60's garage songs are a great listen.The Switches from the U.K. are finally releasing their delayed album and have been touring heavily behind it. The Ting Tings are from Manchester, and will be releasing their full-length in the U.K. in May.The Cribs were produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos.Beirut made many Top 10 lists last year. I'm a bit late to the party but have really begun to like this album.Gnarls admit that they probably won't write another "Crazy," and their new single sounds like a blast from decades past.Atreyu have a great album.Devo (Dell) in the U.K. and the Rumble Strips (Sprint) make this list due to their songs in current TV commercials. As more bands begin to break through television exposure, it may be time to consider new categories for GRAMMY Awards.Duffy is a U.K. girl with a commanding voice and an early-60's style. Flogging Molly are back with a cool tune, just in time for St. Patty's Day.
Gallows, from England, are considered to be the first high-profile hardcore punk band to come out there in a long time. They play well and frontman Frank Carter definitely has the goods in a down-to-earth, very real sort of way. It will probably be awhile before this band has a serious shot at airplay, but they already are doing well in their home country and they just played to a virtually sold-out Troubadour.Khaela Maricich of The Blow played at the Henry Fonda in L.A., and provided a very warm show for the crowd. She was on stage alone, singing and dancing to fully produced backing tracks, and telling amusing stories of failed relationships. She's a good performer whose last album had a nice buzz, but her plan is to concentrate on writing songs for other artists.Mika showed why he's so popular around the world, as the sold-out Wiltern Theatre absolutely adored him. His show is about as happy as any pop or rock show I've seen in a long time, and the young girls sure do love this guy. While in London, I saw Mark Ronson at the Hammersmith Apollo. He sold out two nights (10,000) and had a slew of guest vocalists, similar to his critically acclaimed recent album.Ronson is a good showman who also exudes positive vibes. It was a thrill for him to play at the Hammersmith as he was born just five minutes away. No, Amy Winehouse did not make the surprise appearance that everyone was hoping for.
Iron Maiden just blew through The Forum in Los Angeles as part of a completely sold-out world tour. The guys will be back for a more extensive North American trek in May/June, and they'll be playing monster European dates throughout the summer. Guitar player Warren Cuccurullo (Duran Duran, Missing Persons) wrote some music with Missing Persons' drummer Terry Bozzio, and it's on Warren's myspace page. Both of the guys were in Frank Zappa's band, and the music definitely has that feel. My favorite track is called "Raging Bullshit."
It's refreshing to see touring musicians pick up different instruments during indie rock shows and I love the organic variety we're hearing on more and more albums. I truly enjoy synthesized music, but bands like Arcade Fire have made instrumentation a welcome trend. On my Go Deep shows, the bands getting the strongest reactions are mostly those who would be considered more "musical." If you haven't checked out on my my webcasts lately, I encourage you to, and you can find them at my Rave's Raves site. Thanks to WSUM GM Dave Black and all of the guests who appeared on my 8-hour Rave-athon January 15. They have a great bunch of people at the station, and I look forward to doing more with them in the future. Keep an eye on this space for my SXSW updates, and I'll be back in early May with Rave's Raves #32 and a Coachella recap. Until then,